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THE LIFE OF TICKELL.
Or Thomas Tickell, it is to be regretted, that the partículars which have been transmitted by his contemporaries, are insufficient en gratify the curiosity which his reputation must excite, and difproportionate to his rank in poetry and literature.
He was the son of the Rev. Richard Tickell, who pofleffed a considerable living in Cumberland; and was born at Bridekirk, neat Carlisle, in 1686.
He was educated in his rative country; and in April 1701, he became a member of Queen's College in Oxford.
In 1707, he expressed his gratitude to the University, in a poem, intituled Oxford, addressed to Lord Viscount Lonsdale.
Which thus my thanks to mach-lov'd Oxford pays,
In no ungrateful, though anareful lays. In 1908, he took the degree of Maner of Arts; and two years afterwards he was chosen Fellow. As he had not complied with the statutes which required him to be in orders before he could be chosen to a Fellowship, he obtained a dispensation from the Crown.
At the university he acquired the character of excelling in claffical learning, and in academical cxercises; and was distinguished for his ability in versification.
He entered early into life, and became known to Addison and Steele, and other men of high chasader for talents and literature.
He is faid to have first gained the notice of Addison, by, his verses in praise of Rosamond; in which he censures the Italian opera as a vehicle of melodious absurdity, and compares his softnols to Corelli, and his ftrength to Virgil.
The opera firft Italian masters tavght,
Soft as Corelli, and as Virgil ftrong. The censure of the Italian opera is well founded and strong ; and the panegyric on Rofamond does not very much exaggerate its merits, except perhaps, in the conclusion.
To those verses, Dr. Johnson observes, it would not have been just to deny regard, for they contain fome of the most elegant encomialtic Arains; and among the innumerable poems of the same kind, it will be hard to find one with which they need to fear a comparison,
It may deserve obfervation, that when Pope wrote long afterwards in praise of Addison, he has copied, at least has resembled, Tickell.
Let joy salute fair Rosamonda's fhade,
While now perhaps with Dido's ghost the roves,
When future ages with delight fall see,
When Steele began the Speclator, with the allistance of Addison and the other wits, Tickelt is believed to have contributed frequently to it; but his papers have not been ascertained. Those nrarked with the letter R, are all Steele's, as are many of those marked with T. It has been said that the latter mark was sometimes used by Tickell. There are more papers marked with R and T, than with any other signature ; of these, it is probable, Tickell wrote many, as he was very much with Steele, as well as with Addison, and might be often folicited, as Steele was often in a hurry, to eke out the scanty materials which he had time to provide. He wrote a copy of Verses to tbe supposed author of tbe Speciator, inserted in No. 632, in which a high praise is bestowed on Steele's papers in the “ Tatler," against sharpers, which produced most beneficial effects.
From felon gamesters the raw squire is free,
He was also a contributor to the Gwardian. All the papers on Paftoral Poetry, except one by Pope, in his own praise, are written by Tickell.
When the Tory Ministry were negociating with France, before the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht, he published The Profpeel of Peace, a poem, addressed to Dr. Robinson, Bishop of Bristol, the Lord Privy-Seal, one of the negociators, the tendency of which was to reclaim the nation from the pride of conquell, to the pleasures of tranquillity.
To the Whigs, who disapproved of the peace then negociating, the tendency of Tickell's poem could not be pleafing. Addison, however, in the candor of liberal criticism, overlooking the politics, beltowed in the “ Spectator" very great praise on the poetry.
It was read at that time with so much eagerness, that fix editions were sold. The quick sale of a composition on a temporary subject is no test of its intrinsic merit; the despicable bigotry of Sacheverell had a much more extensive sale, than Tickell's poem, which deserved a favourable reception, though Dr. Jobpson “ found it a piece to be approved rather than admired."
On the appearance of Cato, when so many made offerings of verses to the author, Tickell, who loved and venerated Addison as a father, contributed a copy of verses, superior, perhaps, to any written on the subject, except the prologue by Pope, and the verses by Jeffries.
Tickell had been a ftrenuous supporter of the Hanover succeslion, and other measures, resulting from principles of freedom; and on the acceßion and arrival of King George, he produced a poem, intituled the Royal Progress, which was inserted and praised in “ the Spectator,” No. 620. The plcaling emotions excited in a benevolent king, by the view of 1 azional indultry and prosperity, con, fticute the most beautiful and interesting parts of the poem.
When the friends of the reigning family were apprehensive of designs to its prejudice, he wrote An Epiftle from a Lady in England to a Gentleman at dvignon, against the Pretender and his abettors, which, Dr. Johnson says, “ stands high among party poenis; it expresses cotitempt without coarseness, and fuperiority without insolence. I had the success which it deserved, being five times printed.”
He was now patronised at Court; and when Addison went into Ireland as Secretary to Lord Sunderland, he took him thither, and employed him in public bulinefs.
At the time of the publication of the first volume of Pope's “ Homer," he published the first Book of the Iliad, as translated by himself, in apparent opposition to Pope's translation, with an elegant dedication, to the memory of Halifax.
To apologise for presenting his version to :he public at such a juncture, this advertisement was prefixed : “I must inform the reader, that when I began this first book, I had some thoughts of translating the whole Iliad; but I had the pleasure of being diverted from that design, by finding the work was fallen into a much abler hand; I would not, therefore, be thought to have any other view in publishing this small specimen of Homer's Iliad, chan to bespeak, if posible, the favour of the public to a traufation of Homer's Odyfley, wherein I have already made some progress.”
Addison declared that the verfions were both good, but that Tickell's was the best that ever was nade; and with Addison, the wits, his adherents and followers, coucurred in opinion.
Pope did not long think Addison an impartial indge; for he considered him as the writer of Tickell's version, and appealed to the people as his proper judges, " and if they are not inclined to condemn me,” says he, “ I am in little care about the highfliers at Button's."
The reasons for his suspicion have been transcribed by Dr. Johnson, from Spence's Ms. Collections.
“ There had been a coldness (said Mr. Pope,) between Mr. Addison and me for some time; and we had not been in company together for a good while, any where but at Button's Coffeehouse, where I used to see him almost every day.--On his meeting me there one day in particular, he took me aside ; and said he would be glad to dine with me at such a tavern, if I staid till those people were gone (Budgell and Philips). He went accordingly; and, after dinner, Mr. Addison faid, that he had wanted for some time to talk with me; that his friend Tickell had formerly, whilst at Oxford, erandated the firft Book of the Iliad; that he designed to print it; and had desired him to look it over; that he must therefore beg that I would not defire him to look over my first book; because, if he did, it would have the air of double dealing. I assured him, that I did not at all take it ill of Mr. Tickell, that he was going to publish his tranllation ; that he certainly had as much right to translate any author as myself; and that publishing both was entering on a fair stage. I then added, that I would not desire him to look over my first book of the Iliad, because ke had looked over Mr. Tickell's; but could wish to have the benefit of his observations on my second, which I had then finished, and which Mr. Tickell had not touched upon. Accordingly, I sent him the second book the next morning ; and, Mr. Addison, a few days after, returned it, with very high commendations. Son after, it was generally known that Mr. Tickell was publishing the firf Book of tbe lliad, I met Dr. Young in the street; and, upon our falling into that subject, the Doctor expressed a great deal of surprise at Tickell’s having had such a translation fo.long by him. He said, that it was inconceivable to him; and that there must be some mistake in the matter; that each used to conmunicate to each other whatever verses they wrote, even to the leak things; that Tickell could not be bulied in so long a work there, without his knowing something of the matter; and that he had never heard a single word on it, till on this occasion. This surprise of Dr. Young, together with what Steele has said against Tickell, in relation to this affair, make it highly probable, that there was some underhand dealing in that bufiness; and indeed, Tickell himself, who is a very fair, worthy man, has since, in a manner, as good as owned it to me. When it was introduced into a conversation between Mr. Tickell and Mr. Pope, by a third person, Tickell did not deny it; which, considering his honour and zeal for his departed friend, was the same as owning it.”
Upon these suspicions, Pope, always in his “ Art of Sinking,” quotes this version as the work of Addison; though the circumstances of the publication, not only do not prove that Addison was the tranflator, but do not even render probable the charge of meanness and disingenuity alleged by Pope againt him; the opinions of Young and Steele are no proof,
Addison had a very great affection for Tickell, and might have revised his version, and approved of the publication, to confer a pecuniary obligation on him, by promoting a subscription for his Odyby. But, it is evident, that he had no intention to oppose Pope; for, at the time of the appear, ince of Tickell's verlion, oppolition to Pope could not do him any material injury. His subscription
C c üij
was full, and his contract with his bookseller completely performed. Had Addison wished to ob. fruet Pope's translation, the time for effe Cling his purpose, would have been when the subscription was beginning. He might then have promoted a subscription for Tickell, which would have interfered with Pope's. The influence of Addison with the Whigs, was fully equal to that of Swift with the Tories. With those, who were of neither party, his recommendation would have had more weight than Swift's, becauso he was in greater estimation, for elegant literature in general, and particularly for classical knowledge.
The circumstance of the time of publication, which provoked the irritable disposition of Pope, who supposed his character and interest so much concerned, is fufficiently explained by the advertisement above quoted. This advertisement was industriously suppressed, in Pope's publication on the subjed. That Addison kad any intention of publishing a version of the Iliad, there is no evidence even probable. Had he been aduated by jealousy, envy, or malevolence, it is not probable he would have sp ke so highly of Pope's Iliad as he did in “ The Freeholder.”
" The translation of the first book of the Iliad,” says Mr. Nichols, “ which has been ascribed to Tickell, was said to be in reality the production of Addison, to prejudice that which Pope had un. dertaken ; a notion certainly without foundation. Mr. Watts the printer, assured a friend of mine, that the translation of the forft book of the Iliad was in Tickell’s band-writing, but mueb correded and inters lined by Adsifon.
To compare the two translations would be tcdious; the superiority is universally allowed to Pope. Tickell has, perhaps, more of the simple majesty of Homer; but his version is inferior to that of Pope, in force, animation, elegance, and harmony.
In 1717, when Addison was appointed Secretary of State, he made Tickell under-secretary. When Addison's ill health obliged him to resign, he so effe&ually recommended Tickell to the patronage of Craggs, his successor, that he was continued in place till that gentleman's death..
Addison's appointment of Tickell to be his under-secretary, is said to have been displeasing, en some account, to Steele, who warmly opposed it; and his opposition having been reported to Tickell, produced a coldness between them, which might be aggravated by the controverfy between Addi. son and Steele, on the Peerage bill.
His friendship with Addison seems to have continued without abatement; for when that great man died, he left him the charge of publishing his works, which, on his death-bed, he had dedicated to Craggs.
To the works of Addison, which appeared foon after his death, in 4 vols. 4to, he prefixed an account of his life, and an elegy on his death, addressed to the Earl of Warwick, his son-in-law, replete with genuine tenderness. It is ihe effusion of a refined mind, lamenting the death of a friend of the highest intelle&ual and moral excellence; whose value it completely comprehended, and whose loss it poignantly felt.
In his life of Addison he charged Steele with assuming the credit of Addison's papers in the “ Spectator," an inputation from which Steele vindicated himself in the dedication of the Drummer," to Congrevc.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that Craggs, to whom Addison had dedicated his works, died before they were publithed; and that Lord Warwick, to whom the verses on Addison were dedi. cated, died likewise before their publication.
Tickell's interest with the great did not expire with his friend. His merit enabled him to retain and improve the footing on which he had been placed by Addison. In 1725, he was appointed secretary to the Lord Justices of Ireland, a place of great honour, trust, and emolument, in which he continued till his death, which happened at Bath, April 23, 1740, in the 54th year of his age.
He was married, and had children; the eldest of whom was the father of Richard Tickell, Esq. one of the Commitủoners of the Stamp-office, and author of “ The Wreath of Fashion," a poem; “ Anticipation of the Debates of the House of Commons,” 1778; “ The Carnival of Venice," an opera; and other ingenious performances.
He died at Hampton Court, Nov. 4. 1793, universally beloved and lamented, leaving three chil. dren by his wife, Miss Linley, the lister of the lovely Mrs. Sheridan, wise of the celebrated Richard Brindley Sheridue, Esq who died in 1787.
His poems were printed in the second volume of “ The Minor Poets,” 1749, and have been free quently reprinted.
Tickell is said to have been a man of most pleasing manners, and of unquestioned honour and integrity. His conversation was gay and lively; he was a very agrecable companion, at least a temperate lover of wine and conviviality, and in domestic relations without censure. His writings difcover a good understanding, an extensive knowledge of classical literature, a refined taste, and a feeling heart.
As a poet, he is characterised by elegance of diction, correctness of judgment, tenderness of fentiment, opulence of allufion, and harmony of numbers.
His versification exceeds Addison's, and is inferior to few of the English poets, except Dryden
Most of his pieces, particularly the Prospect of Peace; the Royal Progress; the Letter to Avignon ; Oxford; Kensington Gardens ; Epistle to a Lady before Marriage, and the Elegy on the death of Addison, are diftinguished by a judicious combination of ornament and fimplicity; a happy mixture of sentiment and description, and a rare union of the beauties of style, and the clegancies of versification, with the niceties of method, connection, and arrangement.
of Tickell, it has been said by Goldsmith, that through all his poetry, there is a strain of Ballad-thinking to be found: The remark is just, and to that strain he is not a little indebted for the reception he has met with ; whether he had it from reading, or from nature, cannot now be known, as no memoirs of his life are satisfactory enough to inform us of his particular studies. His beautiful ballad of Colin and Lucy, probably assumed a tincture of tenderness and fimplicity, from his taste for our obscurer writers ; a taste which his friend Addison undoubtedly possessed in a degree superior to any of his contemporaries, except Rowe, as appears by his elegant critique on “ Chevy Chace," and various scattered notices of a genial nature in his periodical papers.
" In the few things that Tickell wrote," says Dr. Warton, “there appear to be a peculiar terseness and neatness. Highly elegant and polished are his Verses on Addison's deatb.”
“ The Elegy on Addison," says Dr. Johnson, “ could owe none of its beauties to the assistance which might be suspected to have strengthened or embellished his earlier compositions ; but neither he nor Addison ever produced nobler lines than are contained in the third and fourth paragraphs; nor is a more fublime or more elegant funeral poem to be found in the whole compass of English literature.
" of his Royal Progress, it is just to say, that it is neither high nor low. Of his Kensington Gardens, the versification is smooth and elegant, but the fiction unskilfully compounded of Grecian deities and Gothic fairies. Neither species of these exploded beings could have done much; and when they are brought together, they only make each other contemptible.
" To Tickell, however, cannot be denied a high place among the minor poets ; nor should it be forgotten that he was one of the contributors to the Speelator.”
If by the term minor poet, the quantity of his poetry is meant, he is not improperly so called; but it the quality is thereby understood, it is a disparagement. If he cannot be placed in the first rank of poets, he has at least an unexceptionable claim to the seconda